Pigeons Are Smarter Than You Might Think And Can Use Touchscreens

Pigeons are everywhere in cities, but they don’t get a lot of love. True, they can spread disease and aren’t very personable, but maybe they’re not getting the credit they deserve. Like city-dwelling humans they have places to be and lunch deals to scavenge. And like good urbanites (and penguins) they know their way around a touchscreen.

Researchers at the University of Iowa found that pigeons do well on task-based intelligence tests, even when the assessments are digitised and conducted on a touchscreen.

In this case, pigeons were presented with the “string task,” in which there are two strings to choose from but pulling the one with food attached to it has a greater benefit. But the pigeons took a digital version, where they got actual food if they consistently pecked the “string” attached to a square that looked like it was full of food. The pigeons performed well on different versions of the test and you can see them following the strings with their eyes to figure out which one is attached to the dish full of “food”.

Pigeons are apparently smart enough to figure out what they were supposed to peck because those depictions of food kind of don’t look like food at all. Pattern recognition probably explains it, but seriously good job pigeons. Didn’t know you had it in you. [PhysOrg via DVICE]